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EXCLUSIVE - Amnesty International chief calls for Sri Lanka referral to UN Security Council

On the 15th anniversary of the genocide at Mullivaikal, Amnesty International's Secretary-General, Agnes Callamard, has called on the international community to take decisive action by referring Sri Lanka to the United Nations Security Council with a view to an International Criminal Court investigation. Speaking to Tamil Guardian after attending the Mullivaikal commemoration today, Callamard highlighted the ongoing struggle for justice and the critical need for international intervention, including the application of universal jurisdiction to deliver justice when Sri Lankan war criminals travel abroad.

"[The Mullivaikkal commemoration] was very, very moving," said Callamard, highlighting that she had met with the mothers of the disappeared earlier, who spoke about their anguish, their fears, and the repression they face. Their anguish stems from not knowing what happened to their loved ones, Callamard said, adding that “this ceremony is a grim reminder of everyone's failures”.

Callamard emphasised the significance of these commemorations for the Tamil community, stressing the fundamental right to remember and honour lost loved ones. "It is a supremely important moment for the Tamil community. It is a moment that must be respected by the authorities. It's a peaceful gathering of people who want to remember and commemorate. This is a fundamental right."

Addressing the broader implications of the struggle for justice, Callamard noted, "these events remind the world that the community is still looking for justice,” adding that the events demonstrated “a resolve to keep working towards justice”.

Agnes Callamard lays flowers at Mullivaikkal

Callamard also underscored the responsibility of the international community to ensure that Sri Lanka remains on the global agenda. “The message I wanted to convey was that Sri Lanka is not falling off the agenda. Yes, the government may want the rest of the world to forget about the war and the search for justice. Yes, the government is unhappy when the UN in Geneva or in New York is reminding the world that 15 years on, justice has not been delivered. But we are here to ensure that Sri Lanka and the search for justice does not fall off international attention.”

Callamard laid out specific steps for the international community. "First, they need to bring this issue to the agenda of the Human Rights Council, which remains the supreme body for anything related to human rights. Second, we certainly would want governments and states to bring this issue to the attention of the Security Council, so that the Security Council can possibly act and demand an International Criminal Court investigation."

She further emphasised the importance of funding and supporting international initiatives like the Accountability Project for Sri Lanka and ensuring that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has the resources to continue its work.

"The international community must use their own courts of justice to deliver justice whenever those war criminals are travelling abroad. There is a principle called universal jurisdiction. It must be implemented, including for Sri Lankan war criminals."

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